Is real, unabridged country music going to make a massive resurgence that puts the bubblegum country-pop on the radio that strips away the very soul of what country was meant to be? For those who love country sounds but are more than weary of the mindless drivel on the airwaves, the outlook seems to be good.
In place of the overproduced beer-commercial-ramblings made by Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, and Jason Aldean, there seems to be a resurgence going on in which artists who create eye-opening and provocative music with an acute sense of the outlaw spirit, are finally garnering some serious traction in the mainstream.
But lets not forget about the atrocity made most familiar by Pit Bull, the country-rap fusion commonly known as Hick-Hop, to illustrate the epitome of everything thats going wrong.
Country fried baptized in gravy/ cant wash off what the good lord made ya Bubba Sparxxx.
Country music of actual substance is on its way back to bringing an end to this equally hilarious and repulsive nightmare, thanks to the following artists among many others:
In his fantastic new album, A Sailors Guide to Earth, Simpsons concept album was written for his son from some sort of celestial, omnipresent, and fatherly perspective. The narrative is about the struggle and hardship he faced in an attempt to map out the world. Sea Stories is foreboding to his son about his time spent serving in the Navy, and the drug addiction that later ensued, ultimately, leading to his discharge. Its a song that invokes a sense of fear and ends with a declaration against the subservience and senselessness he experienced: Flying high beats dying for lies in a politicians war.
Chris Stapletons music, more or less, always has a story to tell in which he pours his heart out in a way thats incredibly easy to sing along to. He captures a transient, train wreck dejection, full of folk tale-driven storylines that capture his isolation in relentless and empty places.
Hank Williams III
With that iconic train-chugging guitar strum that Cash had, with that same sort of badass storytelling taking to a level thats horrifyingly nihilistic and evil, Hank Williams III embodies a tatted-up, drugged out, punk rock monster on an endless spree of violent crime that makes Johnny Cash look like a saint. Its a dark, devilish take on bluegrass that embodies a deal with the devil.
Lydia Loveless combines the more upbeat, rockabilly songs with much more mellow, drawn out tracks. She's got a really dynamic songwriting style that makes each of her tracks special in their own way, and shes got a lot of woe that she lives out through her often heavy stories that no other singer can capture in quite the same way.
Nikki Lane totally owns the outlaw transience that was present within country musics greats. She sings about her authentic experiences like, abandoning her former life and packing everything she owns in a trailer to move west and start her music career. Her songs are often autobiographical, and moving in their own right. It blends an iconic pop kind of spirit with outlaw country in a way that actually works to create some seriously insightful music with wanderlust and soulfulness.
Often starting tracks out with just a mandolin and singing, Wovenhand is a solo artist who often incorporates epic and cinematic string section into his songwriting, to create mythical stories and adventures that are totally harrowing and awe-inspiring. His ability to create intense soundscapes on a banjo or a mandolin riff creates intense buildups and super-cathartic music thats hard not to love.
Jason Isbells songs are his escape from being caught in the rut that comes with living a life that always seems lost. He sings heartfelt songs that add a softer side to the rough edges that a lot of new alternative country artists have, to create a complete portrait of the humanity that goes into Americana music. Its often quite enjoyable if youre looking for something earnest but mellow at the same time.
Hell, even Beyonce came out with a track thats completely full of storytelling and gunslinging characters to ride the wave of a revitalized and world-weary style of country music with Lemonade. Its called Daddy Lessons, and its just one of the many risks that she takes on the latest record, showcasing her southern roots with a fusion of New Orleans jazz and Nashville styles. If thats not a sign that major artists are getting some foresight into countrys coming triumph, then there isnt one.